In times of budget cutbacks hospital art is often the first thing to go, however, a new piece of research suggests that this might be a false economy. Upali Nanda from American Art Resources in Houston led a study based in a lounge for psychiatric patients in a hospital in East Alabama. On different days either a picture of nature or a landscape; a piece of abstract art or no art at all was hung up in the lounge. The researchers then noted how much medication was prescribed on a pro re nata (PRN) (over and above patients' normal prescriptions) basis to deal with patients who had become agitated or anxious. The study found that there was a significant reduction in PRN medication on the days when natural and landscape art was hung in the lounge although some abstract art was found to make patients more agitated. The reduction in PRN medication was found to be around $30,000 per annum - more than enough to buy a few halfway-decent prints for the lounge.
Nanda, U. ... [et al] - Effect of visual art on patient anxiety and agitation in a mental health facility and implications for the business case Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing